Media Release - Delegates from 15 Pacific Islands Countries have returned from an intensive two- week study tour of Korea directed at facilitating the development of e-Government in the Pacific.

e-Government - the use of Internet and other communications technologies for governments to communicate with citizens and the global community - has potential to improve governance and eliminate the effects of distance and isolation in the Pacific.

Coordinator of the group from the Pacific Islands Countries and Forum Secretariat Economic Infrastructure Adviser, John Budden said Korea is ranked number one globally in e-Government and the Korean Government is funding the study tours under a three-year agreement with the Forum Secretariat.

The course consisted of knowledge sharing by experts from Government, academia and the private sector on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in many facets of public enterprise. Discussions focused on better government citizen relations and improved transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of governance by use of ICT.

Formal lectures were supplemented by visits to major commercial and industrial plants as well as centers using and developing ICTs for government management.

"Participants were given a clear understanding of the contribution e-government has made to Korea's dramatic economic and social recovery over the last half century and the role of ICT in the current unique democratic culture," said Mr Budden.

He added that with ICT connectivity rapidly improving in the region through the telecommunications sector reforms, opportunities to apply e-Government for information dissemination and citizen relations with government was becoming a reality.

The workshop discussed the use of simple e-Government techniques such as call centers and media as well as more sophisticated approaches applied to government purchasing and customs.

"The imminent introduction of m-banking facilities (the use of mobile phones to conduct financial transactions), for example, would allow seamless payments for services provided by the government to the general public," Mr Budden said